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(Neb)-Chadron Budget Balanced  Listen

By: John Axtell Posted at: 08/28/2019 03:07 PM
CHADRON - The proposed Chadron city budget for next year is now balanced, a big change after the first draft came in about $3-million dollar in the red and the second draft with a shortfall of about half that size.

       Few additional changes are expected before final adoption next month.

        The earlier versions required using city reserves to balance the budget, but the current one actually adds nearly $200,000 to reserves with General Fund revenues increasing $107,000 and General Fund expenses going up just 1%.

      Vice Mayor Keith Crofutt praised staff Monday night for their hard work on bringing the budget together.


City Manager Greg Yanker had emphasized during the first reading of the budget ordinance 3 weeks ago that the numbers at that time offered the worst-case scenario estimates on such things as health insurance costs, so the gap would shrink as final numbers became clearer.

       Yanker told the council Monday night at the second reading that revenue estimates were higher, the cash carryover was bigger because spending in the current year was even smaller than projected, property and liability insurance would be less, and health insurance well under the earlier numbers.

      Health care costs, which the city self-funds supplemented by a policy for catastrophic car, had been projected to increase 15%, but are now in the budget at a 3% hike under the options chosen by the city and employees.

      The council Monday night approved a change in insurance companies for property and liability, moving from long-time provider EMC - Employer's Mutual Casualty - to Nebraska's League Association of Risk Management, a change that will save $70,000.

      Yanker said the city was happy with the coverage from EMC, but that the 30-year old Risk Management insurance pool was simply much lower. The 167 members in the pool include SWANN, the Solid Waste Agency of Northwest Nebraska, as well as cities and other local governmental entities.

      Revenue estimates were aided by final property valuations from Dawes County that were a little higher than projected, translating into another $36,000 in property taxes at the current tax rate. City staff also shifted some funds to carryover and reduced the amount going into the equivalent of a sinking fund for the fire department.

      Another area of savings was the library, where a $40,000 new roof turned into a $5,000 repair expected to last at least 5 years, by which time decisions should be made on the long-discussed library expansion and renovation project.

      The budget contains 3 capital improvement items: a badly-needed new snowplow/snowblower and upgrades to the credit card machine for the aviation fuel tanks at the airport and the police department's records management system. The latter two are needed because the current ones use software or technology no longer supported by the manufacturers.


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